Do Old Movies Look Right On New Technology?

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Spending a lot of money on installing a home theater is a way of experiencing new films in the way the director intended them to be enjoyed, but not everybody likes new movies.

For the classicist, is there a danger that investing in new technology will take some of the spirit of the older movies they like?

Certainly there has been some debate over the remastering of older movies for broadcast on newer technology, and whether this strips away the authenticity of the show – but is this a justifiable complaint or the gripe of someone looking for something to complain about?

In many ways, it depends on the movie you are watching. Some directors of old, aware of the limitations of technology, very cleverly played on those very limitations to provide a more stripped-down film which could be all the more stark or realistic for its basic quality.

If we watch a remastering of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, will we be disappointed by how obvious it is that that “blood” is actually chocolate syrup? Does the increase of realism damage the suspension of disbelief?

It is hard to give a full answer one way or the other for whether the newer technology damages the experience of older movies, because once we have seen the film for the first time we are never seeing it as new, and knowing what has happened we will always look for more peripheral details.

In the end it is the job of the person remastering recordings for newer technology to retain the spirit of the film, as it is not possible to go back and reshoot the film to suit the newer developments.

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